Colombia is expected to be among the 10 fastest growing tourist markets globally according to a recent article in ElColombiano, the local newspaper in Medellín. The article cited a study by MasterCard that found that 27 million people traveled to Latin America in 2012, coming mainly from the U.S. and Canada. The study expects Latin American markets will grow by 4.5% in 2017 with Colombia experiencing even faster growth.
According to recent statistics from Colombia’s trade ministry, the number of foreign visitors to Colombia (visitors who are not residents) grew 14% in 2014. Not counting cruise ship passengers, Colombia received 1,967,814 foreign visitors last year.
In comparison to the nearly 2 million international tourists in Colombia in 2014, Mexico had over 40 million international tourists in 2014 and Peru had over 3 million international tourists last year.
The tourism growth in Colombia is much faster than global tourism growth, which grew 4.7% last year according to the World Tourism Organization. It is also faster than the average tourism growth in all of South America, which grew 5.7% last year. Over the last two years, Colombia’s tourism growth rate has outpaced the global and South American tourism growth rates. Tourism in Colombia has grown by over 260% since 2002 when about 540,000 foreigners visited the country. Colombia is looking to grow its tourism industry even more with a goal to bring in $6 billion in revenue from tourism in 2018.
Increase in Flights to Colombia
Airlines recently have been adding more flights to Colombia. Clearly the airlines have experienced the increase in tourism to Colombia and are adding flights based on demand.
Recently Delta announced it is adding flights in December from Atlanta to both Medellín and Cartagena in Colombia. New flights between Colombia and Europe include KLM recently starting a new flight service to Colombia that flies in a circle from Amsterdam to Bogotá to Cali and then back to Amsterdam and in July Avianca will start daily service between London Heathrow and Bogotá (up from four flights per week). Additional international flights include Avianca starting direct flights between Bogotá and Los Angeles in July with four weekly flights and Aeromexica in March started direct flights between Mexico City and Medellin with four weekly flights.
With tourism in Colombia expected to be one of the 10 fastest growing tourist markets globally in 2015, we believe airlines will continue to add international flights to Colombia.
Over the past several years, the most popular city for foreigners to visit in Colombia was Colombia’s capital and largest city, Bogotá, with over 50% of visitors. Cartagena came in second with about 11% of visitors and Medellín came in third with about 10% of visitors.
The Bottom Line
Colombia’s tourist market is growing from a relatively small base so we believe it should continue to experience strong growth over the next several years that outpaces the tourism growth in other countries in Latin America.
Medellín is becoming a popular tourist location particularly for its Christmas lights display known as El Alumbrado in December and early January as well as the Medellín Flower Fair known as Feria de los Flores in August.
We continue to believe that Medellín may grow its number of tourists each year possibly at a faster rate than Bogotá or Cartagena as Medellín continues to receive positive press on a regular basis:
2015 – listed in – Top Travel Destinations for Your 2015 Bucket List